This Tailor with its Made-for-Filipino Cut Makes Getting Your Perfect Suit a Reality
While there is no shortage of Filipino tailors crafting well-constructed suits today, there is something special about Masanting Sastreria, the local tailoring outfit by couple Mark and Carin Aguas. “Masanting in Kapampangan means 'handsome' or 'to describe something beautiful.' Likewise, our suits are created by passionate craftsmen and designed by dedicated curators fulfilling a 'Masanting' signature look,” says Carin, CEO of Masanting Sastreria, about the company's name.
Although the name is taken from a Kapampangan word, Masanting finds its roots not in Pampanga but in the sartorial haven of New York City, where Mark held an internship in finance and accounting in 2010. Despite being the birthplace of menswear greats such as Ralph Lauren, Mark was hard-pressed to find a suit that draped well on his Asian build. After having his suit made back in Manila and then flown out to the Big Apple, Mark’s own co-workers and other New Yorkers took notice and, well, the rest is history.
Mark and Carin Aguas put up Masanting Sastreria as a tailoring outfit with Filipino sensibilities.
“I remember Mark going home with an empty suitcase, then he would fly back with his luggage full of suits,” Carin fondly recalls. Although their operations are primarily based in Manila, the couple still receives and entertains clients from abroad, especially from New York.
Almost a decade later after setting up shop, Masanting Sastreria has grown beyond the twosome to include a handful of haberdashery specialists. Staying true to its cause of supporting Filipino artisans, it has teamed up with local artists for the vibrant and intricate patterns of its jacket linings. Later this year, Masanting is also heading to the south to open a concept space with Sapatero Manila called Sama-Sama. The venture will house other curated brands that share their passion for Filipino sartorial culture.
In spite of these milestones, Masanting Sastreria has maintained its brand of heartfelt and personalized service. Adding a special touch to its bespoke services, it has developed the House Cut, it's signature suit construction designed for comfort and mobility and with the Filipino sensibility in mind. The cut is built for a tropical climate and the Filipino suit wearer who may still be getting used to the idea of a double-breasted jacket.
The House Cut is a classic suit that fits the Filipino culture.
Carin describes the design as classic and timeless with a construction that emphasizes comfort. “This also means that anyone with any body type can move freely with ease in it and, at the same time, maintain that clean tailored look,” she says.
Notably, the outfit has assembled the Masanting Curators, a band of men that serves as personal style advisors to its clients. These menswear experts are tasked to preside over every appointment, from day one to the delivery of the suit. They guide the client each step of the way, selecting fabrics, taking measurements, and providing advice, so customers can make better decisions about their suit.
The curators also oversee house calls, which are private trunk shows, with clients. After getting to know the client, including his style and hobbies and the details of the event he will be wearing the suit in, a curator shows him a selection of fabrics, making sure to include the textiles' histories and individual characteristics.
“Once they're set with that, we discuss the different parts of the suit and their purposes and features. Since we have a great time during the appointment, it usually lasts anywhere between one to two hours per client,” adds Carin. Currently, the shop houses four of style connoisseurs, each with their own individual styles and preferences, which clients can match with their own in order to get that perfect fit.
Esquire talked to Carin to learn more about Masanting's signature House Cut and its in-house sartorial authorities.
What makes Masanting Sastreria different from other tailoring and suit shops?
I’ll summarize this into three things: First is the passion for the craft and menswear. Everyone on our team lives and breathes suits and tailoring. This passion does not only manifest in the way we dress in every appointment, but also in how we converse with our clients. We often get feedback that this passion and energy is contagious.
Second is an unrelenting focus on our customers and their overall experience. If there is one word that we use to describe our customer service, it is malasakit. We genuinely care for our clients. We encourage them to be comfortable with us and to feel free to discuss, not only positive things, but also negative things about their commissions, especially during fittings.
Ultimately, this open communication is what ensures that they walk out with the best suit. Our clients eventually become good friends. We reply to each others’ Instagram Stories and they also reach out to us for random style advice, which is exactly what we want.
Third is world-class quality. This covers everything from the raw materials to the skill of our tailors and suit curators. We see to it that everything that comes out of our workshop are up to the standards we set for ourselves and the brand—that is, world-class quality tailoring at par with the established Italian and British tailors out there. Part of this is striving to improve all the time. We read about, research on, and experiment with both the modern and traditional ways of tailoring.
Tell us more about your Masanting Curators.
The Masanting Curators are the fabric experts, the style virtuosos, and the well-trained artisans who take the client measurements, choreograph fittings, and most important, build a healthy, fun, and stylish relationship with the clients.
They are young menswear enthusiasts who take dressing well passionately. You’ll always see them with their hair perfectly combed, wearing a herringbone striped navy Masanting suit matched with their own personal style.
Do the Curators undergo training at Masanting?
At the start of their curator training, they learn about the different fabrics and their characteristics, as well as their origins. They are also trained to know the different types of bodies and the cuts that look good on each type. In addition, they are taught how to mix and match different colors and patterns to make sure they are able to present options to their clients.
Once they’ve mastered all of the above, they undergo a “shadowing” process with the lead curators where they have to know the technical aspects of making a suit, as well as how to measure and fit.
What sets your House Cut apart from other suits?
Our House Cut is designed as an introduction to a classic, timeless suit that fits the Filipino culture. It is lightweight in construction and semi-loose in certain areas, allowing the wearer to move with ease and comfort.
It took us over 100 suit designs and trials to perfect this. When a client comes to us, this is what we always present to them first, unless they already have their own style or cut in mind.
The House Cut is a well-calculated suit that provides the perfect fit for any body type. Our shoulders are lightly padded and run very naturally into the sleeves. We love highlighting our lapels, so we also position the button point fairly lower than the local standard. As for the cut of the jacket, it is a half-moon shape, which gives the wearer a nice slim silhouette. For our trousers, we cut it straight with cuff folds to maximize movement.
What kinds of clients and orders do you usually deal with?
Since we started the business in New York, we have a handful of international clients who still get suits from us. Our client base is a mix of [men going to] weddings, corporate, and special events. We cater to both men and women. When it comes to service and appointments, we specialize in house calls. Every house call is a private trunk show. We bring our wide selection of fabrics along with our suit curators to the homes of our clients.
What kind of man do you have in mind for Masanting Sastreria?
I think anyone who thinks through the details of how they look and what they wear are ideal Masanting clients. We love discussing suits and style with these kinds of people. Additionally, those who are looking for quality and treat suits as investments also fit the bill. Lastly, those who support Filipino craftsmen and artisans, and want to support our cause of establishing the Philippines in the global tailoring world are also welcome.
The Masanting Curators are Your Style Guides
There are four Masanting Curators who will guide you through every step of the creation of your bespoke suit. Choose a style advisor according to their expertise and preferences. Carin describes each man below.
1| The Walking Encylopedia
Raffy knows everything there is to know about the suit fabric, down to the composition and the history of the mills.
2| The Classic Dresser
Dan, who is often seen in wide-lapel jackets and high-rise trousers with braces, is a student of classic menswear. He's well-versed in the historical function of pieces, as well as the appropriate proportion that makes an outfit aesthetically pleasing.
2| The Old-New Soul
4| The Mix-and-Matcher
Vince loves to strip away different aspects of different style genres—rock, grunge, street—to make a cohesive tailored look. He loves to play around with patterns and colors and is never too afraid to try something out of the ordinary.